Dijsselbloem: May takes UK back to 1970s

Eurogroup president paints bleak picture of ‘impoverished’ Britain after hard Brexit.

Foto Olivier Hoslet / EPA

UK prime minister Theresa May risks bringing her country back to prosperity levels of the 1970s by taking a hard stance on Brexit, Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in an interview with NRC in Davos on Wednesday.

Dijsselbloem said that he believes “in 20 years time (…) England will be back where it was around the 1970s: totally outdated, with huge unemployment, totally impoverished. To me, this does not seem to be a model for England’s future”.

Read the interview with Mr Dijsselbloem (in Dutch): Bij harde Brexit verpaupert het VK

Dijsselbloem reacted to May’s Tuesday speech, in which she made clear she will strive for a ‘hard’ Brexit, with the UK exiting the EU’s single market. He believes she risks becoming “a sort of pariah on the periphery”.

The Eurogroup president criticized May’s isolationism, yet he said he sees positive aspects in the protectionist rhetoric of the American president-elect Donald Trump.

“Trump calls corporations to account in terms of their responsibility, and that really has my sympathy. He is acting in a pretty rude way: ‘if you settle down in Mexico, you won’t get into the US anymore’. I do not agree with that, I am a supporter of international co-operation and I am worried about some of his other positions. But he does remind companies that their behaviour has consequences for the middle class. I am sympathetic to that.”